Pandemics in South East Asia

The first bibliographical essay in our Pandemics series has arrived: Vivek Neelakantan’s very interesting “History of Pandemics in Southeast Asia: A Return of National Anxieties? “ and his bibliography. The article pioneers our experimental “early release and open review” process that allows us to post the first version of Neelakantan’s article and bibliography while it is being reviewed. You can see the peer review page here. See a list of all the essays here.

We have turned the traditional peer-review process upside down so that finished drafts can be immediately read while review is taking place. I believe that this expedited form of online publication is especially useful in this case, where we historians of science, medicine, and technology can provide insights and resources for anyone thinking about the current global pandemic, and those resources need to be gathered and made accessible with expert commentary.

Neelekantan’s essay takes us into a variety of questions about nation and region in a complex and diverse area. His focus is on the colonial and post-colonial period up until today. Neelakantan’s essay is especially useful in highlighting the gaps in historical scholarship and he points the way to new research: “What is missing in Southeast Asian medical history,” he tells us at one point, “is a regional perspective that would help understand how pandemic responses were shaped by colonial, Cold War, and national concerns.” His essay goes on to discuss the complex tensions that have resulted from divergent ways of thinking about this place in terms of nationalism and regionalism. But there’s also much more to be discovered in this essay as well. Please take a look.